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The American Baptist Churches USA was first established as the Northern Baptist Convention in 1907, which was changed to American Baptist Convention in 1950, and to its current name in 1972.

Some church historians will trace the group's origins back to 1814 or 1845, and the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions, later known as the Triennial Convention, the first national Baptist convention in the United States. The American Baptist Publication Society and the American Baptist Home Mission Society were established in 1824 and 1832 respectively. By the 1840s, differences relating to the issue of slavery adversely affected the unity of the mission board and, in 1845, the Northern and Southern groups split, with the Northern group becoming the American Baptist Missionary Union, while the Southern group became the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1907, the American Baptist Missionary Union became the Northern Baptist Convention.

Even today, churches belonging to the American Baptist Churches USA are located primarily in the Northeast and Midwest United States. The American Baptist Churches USA is about a tenth the size of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is the sixth largest of the Baptist bodies in America.

The American Baptists are diverse in race and ethnicity, culture, and theology. American Baptist pastors include liberals and conservatives. Overall, it is a more liberal denomination than the Southern Baptists, largely because it rejects creeds that would prohibit members from interpreting the Bible as they see fit. Although this is not true of all pastors in the American Baptist Churches USA, large portions of the denomination consider the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper as aids, rather than essentials to salvation.

American Baptists hold that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and an authoritative guide for living a Christian life.

They believe in a triune God, that being Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are also recognized as the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, respectively. God the Father is sovereign of the universe. Jesus Christ, atoned for the sins of humanity through His death on the cross, and then rose from the dead. The Holy Spirit guides people to better understand Scripture.

The local church is autonomous, and free to formulate its own doctrine, mission, and worship style. The denomination exists as a resource for missionary work, but does not dictate policy to local congregations.

As a recent development, women can be ordained as pastors. Another recent development, the ABC-USA allows each congregation to decide whether or not to perform same-sex marriages or to ordain LBGT clergy.

Due to the sins of humanity, Jesus came to make atonement on the cross. Those who believe in Him are assured of salvation.

Baptism is by immersion, and is for those who are old enough to understant its significance, which is resurrection to a new life in Jesus. The Lord's Supper commemmorates Christ's broken body and shed blood. These ordinances are not necessary for salvation.

American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ will return one day, but opinions vary as to end-time events. Most pastors within the denomination believe that heaven is reserved for believers, and that hell is reserved for non-believers.

The American Baptist Churches USA is represented in the National Council of Churches in the USA, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and the World Council of Churches. The ABC-USA has made overtures toward union with the Alliance of Baptists, the Church of the Brethren, the Disciples of Christ, General Baptists, the National Baptist Convention, Seventh-day Baptists, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Tney have welcomed Free Baptists into full fellowship.

In recent decades, the American Baptist Churches USA have been struggling with declining memberships. A large portion of its membership consists of African-American churches that have joint affiliations with the ABC-USA and such historic bodies as the National Baptist Convention or the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

The focus of this category is on the Protestant body known as the American Baptist Churches USA. Sites representing local congregations should be submitted to the appropriate Local & Global category.



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